I've been thinking about the conclusion to Jenny's story in The Punisher this week, and how it relates to ideas Ennis has maintained throughout his run.
At the end of the story, Jenny has gotten her revenge. While she eliminated most of the ladies with calm, Punisher-like efficiency, she seemed to lose it when dealing with her sister, as she opted to bludgeon her to death with a bat, while nude and yelling about how this is what built the cushy, mafia lifestyle they had enjoyed.
At this point, vengeance/revenge having been accomplished, Jenny turns to Frank (while still covered in her sister's blood), and talks about the power that came from wearing the skull symbol as she dealt with her old acquaintances. But the fact she enjoyed that scares her, so she begs Frank to help her feel anything, presumably to drown out all the sadness, grief, and spent rage. Then she tells Castle that this is so hard to do, live with all the death and sadness, for anyone other than him.
Then she kills herself.
So it's interesting to contrast her with Castle. Frank deals out death to criminals every day, people who had no connection to him or the tragedy of his life whatsoever. And even with all the hundreds of deaths he's dealt out, he never seems to falter, or question what he's doing. Oh, he may question his level of brutality (like he did in this story, when he thought about all the extreme stuff he'd done in the "Slavers" arc from last year), but not the actual killing of criminals. Like Jenny said, he's a soldier, and he's taken it as his mission, so he can't quit.
For Jenny though, it was strictly personal. These specific people had convinced her to stay in a terrible situation, convincing her it would all be okay, even as her husband unleashed deeper levels of depravity. So she stayed, and played the, as she described it 'devoted housewife'. And it nearly destroyed her. Or maybe it did destroy her, and all that was left during this story was a ghost, taking care of unfinished business.
Having killed them, she has nothing left. Her life was wrecked, seemingly beyond repair. She took revenge on those who helped that happen, and now what? I think she's sickened by what she just did, because she thinks it makes her like her now-dead ex-husband, taking enjoyment from harming people, because she can, or because they're weaker. Which is a good thing. You kind of hope that if a person shot three people in the face, shived another, and beat their sister to death with a bat, that it would trouble, even with the extenuating circumstances. It shows there's still someone left inside, not just an engine of destruction. Of course, feeling bad about it makes it harder to go on, and that's Jenny's real problem. She doesn't have a next step for her life, and she can't live with things as they are, so she ends it.
I think it ties back in to what Ennis has been saying with his Punisher stories for awhile, namely that Frank Castle is a unique being. We say things like that all the time, that everyone is "special", or "different", and it's true, but in Frank's case, it's especially true. It wasn't just that his family was killed because they were unlucky enough to be in the middle of an attempted assassination (according to Punisher: The Cell), or that he had the requisite military know-how and could find weapons to wage his war. There are plenty of people that could match the first criteria, and probably at least some of those would fall into the second category as well, but you don't see Punishers all over the Marvel Universe, even though vigilantism was very popular.
Because it's more than just those two factors. It's the specific things he experienced and had to do to survive in Vietnam (Punisher: Born). Those were times he was put in a situation where you couldn't hesitate, or feel anything about the death you caused, because it would get you killed. Even earlier than that, it's the things he saw as a child (Punisher: The Tyger): people too frightened by criminals to stop things that are wrong, the idea that there are creatures 'not created by God', and how far you can (or have to) go to set things right sometimes.
All those things taken together make Frank Castle the Punisher. All those things help to explain why he can keep on going, while Jenny feels so broken inside she has to kill herself, and Detective Budiansky quits the force, because he worries about becoming the Punisher, even while he still has someone to care about.